Letter to Federal Member re NBNCo TCP Quote

Mr J. Leeser MP – Julian.Leeser.MP@aph.gov.au
423 Pennant Hills Rd,
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

Ms Michelle Rowland MP – Michelle.Rowland.MP@aph.gov.au
Shadow Minister for Communications
230 Prospect Highway
Seven Hills, NSW, 2147

Dear Mr Leeser,

My name is Andrew XXX and I am a resident of your electorate in XXXX NSW. I am writing to seek your assistance to resolve a matter relating to NBNCo services in our street.

NBNCo services were made available to my house in early June 2019. Six months after the date advised by NBNCo and six months after most other residents in the street had their NBNCo service made available (ref: my letter to you 25/2/2019 12:37 Subject: Delayed NBN Services in Mt Colah).

Our NBNCo services are provided using the Fibre-to-the-Curb (FttC) technology as part of the Coalitions Multi-Technology-Mix strategy (MTM). This type of technology uses fibre optic cable strung along the power lines in the street and terminated on the pole. A device then connects my house to the fibre via the existing copper line into individual premises.

Myself and four of my neighbours have engaged with NBNCo (as a group) under their Technology Choice Program (TCP) (Technology choice application # XXXX-XXXXX) and requested a quote for the installation of a full Fibre-To-The-Premises (FttP) service into our five houses.

NBNCo have completed their quote and supplied it to us. The total price to convert the five houses to a full fibre optic service is just shy of $30,000 or $6000 per house. The validity of this quote ends 22nd September 2019 and after this date we will be forced to request a new quote from NBNCo and pay the quote fee of $330 each again. The justification for this high price is unavailable. It is this residents group’s view that this price is excessive and unreasonable for the reasons below.

NBNCo is unwilling to justify the price
Upon discussion with the NBNCo team that manages the quotes, they were unable to provide an itemised statement that allows me to determine what the contributing costs are to this price. The only advise I was provided with (verbally) was that the high cost is due to “civil works”. There is no mechanism of appeal for NBNCo customers to challenge this quote if they feel the price is unreasonable.

From this, my understanding is that NBNCo are directly passing on the equipment and labour costs for the installation of new underground conduits and pits into our street. Our street currently has no existing infrastructure in place for underground services.

We are being forced to pay for NBNCo’s shortsightedness
Due to the lack of underground infrastructure for telecommunications services in our street, when NBNCo designed and built the FttC infrastructure in XXXXX, all cabling and equipment was deployed via the existing power lines. NBNCo made a choice to not build the underground infrastructure in our street. Other streets in XXXXX that do have the underground infrastructure available have their FttC cables and equipment installed underground.

NBNCo network rules allow for aerial installations
According to NBNCo documents in the public domain which relate to network design rules, NBNCo has the option to deploy FttC and FttP using aerial solutions. Why has the design team in NBNCo now chosen to ignore these rules when producing our quote? Obviously the design team was able to use the aerial deployment methods during the design and build of the FttC solution.

NBNCO network rules allow for customers upgrading to FttP
The same public domain network design rules also illustrate that the NBNCo designers fully expected customers would be interested in upgrading their FttC connections to the FttP solution. The NBNCo network rules specifically describe this scenario. It does not make sense then that NBNCo designers would now essentially install a second NBNCo network in our street (in pits and pipes) just to service our five houses. This makes no sense, either commercially or practically.

The Government policy is flawed
On 9th April 2013, the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcom Turnbull announced the Coalition’s Broadband Policy. The Policy announced the MTM Strategy and that customers would be able to pay “a few thousands dollars” and upgrade to the full FttP solution. The new MTM Strategy was “very flexible” and allowed customers that wanted the faster speeds (a work from home architect was a described use case in the press conference) to pay for an upgrade to FttP connection.

Our experience has now shown that this was not in-fact the case and that NBNCo has no willingness to actually deliver this part of the MTM Strategy. $6000 per house is not “a few thousand dollars”. NBNCo designed flexibility in the MTM as required but now appear unprepared or unwilling to actually allow this to happen.

There is a long history of NBNCo charging unreasonable fees to consumers for their switch over to an FttP service. There is a large representative sample of data available from https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vS4A3OuN9GCIInzbaWr9OOl0dEUUyPgIuWT2zousCS8dSEAbFdFBaQB5P3pSGpfKEBH1ue7T6Baemvu/pubhtml

We would welcome the chance to meet with you in XXXX and have a conversation about our experiences and what may be a reasonable path forward. It would be beneficial to also have an NBNCo representative in attendance who is familiar with our TCP application.

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter since NBNCo has given us till the 22nd September to respond to their quote. After that time our application will be closed and we would need to re-apply and re-pay the quote fees to start this process again.


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